A BURGLAR claimed he was a workman when seen at the home of a dementia sufferer, a court was told.

Neighbours were curious after seeing a car with its engine revving in a street in Crossgate Moor, Durham, at 11am on January 20.

Durham Crown Court was told the car horn was sounded, as if warning someone in the house alongside.

A nearby resident found the householder in a confused state, with an unknown male present claiming to be doing work, but the neighbour spotted broken glass and went home to contact police.

Another neighbour checked the house and was met by a stranger who merely said: “Alright!” as he left.

Phillip Morley, prosecuting, said due to the householder’s dementia it was not known exactly what happened, but there were signs of a search having been made.

Defendant David Francis was arrested 12 days later after a break-in at a house in Second Street, Consett, in which money, gold chains and bank cards were taken.

The 31-year-old, of Escomb Villas, near Bishop Auckland, admitted both burglaries, a burglary attempt, also in Consett, and theft from a delivery van in Willington.

Joe Hedworth, mitigating, said Francis apologised “profusely” to his victims, adding he was “desperate” with a loan shark debt at the time.

Passing a two-year prison sentence, Recorder Ian Atherton told Francis he has an “unenviable record” and understands the “shame” he felt over his latest crimes.